15. Mike Brown: 9
For a man who has been consistently excellent in an England shirt, this was another level up. Brown did not put a foot wrong, making metres every time he gathered the ball, ending with 82 made in total and beating five defenders along the way. His role in England’s try saw him join the line (something his detractors say he must do more of) to take a brilliant pass from Robshaw, before successfully drawing two defenders and sending Danny Care in under the posts. Superlatives roll off the tongue, and rightly so.
14. Jack Nowell: 6
A thoroughly mixed bag for Nowell. There were glimpses of what he can do as he carried the ball menacingly on occasion, but never managed to get away from the defence. And then there were the silly errors, such as the dropped hight ball under very little pressure. Cut those out, and he will be a good international player – but he must do so soon.
13. Luther Burrell: 7
Another reasonably quiet game from Burrell, but he did what little he had to do well. When he carried he made it over the gainline, and despite a few missed tackles he was generally solid in defence. Yet to show his Northampton form on the international stage, however, and will be looking over his shoulder for the return of Tuilagi.
12. Billy Twelvetrees: 6.5
Twelvetrees was busy defensively, making 16 tackles but also missing four, which is not as good a return as he would have hoped for. There were a few occasions also when he put his head down and ran into traffic rather than opening the game up. The frustration is that everyone knows he is capable of better.
11. Jonny May: 7
Had he finished the try in the opening minutes his score would be a full point higher. Once he chose to step inside rather than pass to the man outside, he had to score, and that he didn’t was poor – despite it being down in large parts to some excellent scramble defence. Still, he rallied well in the second half with several darting breaks, always seeming to beat the first man.
10. Owen Farrell: 7
A good performance was almost ruined by a moment of the old petulance that blights his game at times, and he was lucky to stay on the pitch for the full 80 minutes. Other than that, his tactical kicking was excellent and he seems much more comfortable standing flatter now – the brilliant try began with his pass to get Robshaw on the outside of D’Arcy.
9. Danny Care: 8.5
Another excellent performance from the scrum-half. On a couple of occasions when Mike Brown broke the line, he lacked support, but for England’s try Care arrived on his shoulder at precisely the right moment, and reaped the rewards as he scampered in under the posts. Much better box-kicking, too.
1. Joe Marler: 7
Didn’t miss a tackle all day and had Mike Ross contorting in the scrums on a couple of occasions. Solid if unspectacular from Marler, exactly what you want from your props.
2. Dylan Hartley: 7.5
Flawless at the lineout once again, and a pillar of physicality in amongst this impressive English pack. Has stuck his head out in front of Youngs in the battle for the starting hooker jersey.
3. Davey Wilson: 7
Considering his lack of game time, Wilson played superbly well for the majority of the game. He was bent out of shape by Healy at the first scrum, at which point many England fans would have been fearing the worst for the rest of the game, but to his credit he rallied well and more than held his own for the rest of the game.
4. Joe Launchbury: 9
The man was everywhere, pilfering at the breakdown and charging into tackles. Deserved to share the MOTM award with Brown. The tap tackle on Dave Kearney in the final minutes probably saved a try, and was every bit as important as the brilliant score earlier on. Quite how he managed to make it, after 75 minutes of grunt work in all corners of the pitch, is astonishing. Finished with 18 tackles in total, second only to Robshaw.
5. Courtney Lawes: 7
Only carried four times, but picked his moments well to return 26 metres from those carries. Took some important lineouts and didn’t miss any tackles, but did concede a few needless penalties.
6. Tom Wood: 7
Brilliant try saving tackle in the first half on Trimble stopped Ireland from getting a foothold in the tame, and he continued in the same vein for most of the game working quietly but effectively.
7. Chris Robshaw: 8.5
England’s captain again led by example, topping the tackle stats with 22 and was often the first man to the breakdown. Aside from that there was a rare moment of eye-catching play from the flanker, when he showed an impressive yard of pace to get outside Gordon D’Arcy and then offload to the rampaging Mike Brown, who charged up field to set up England’s crucial try.
8. Billy Vunipola: 6
Perhaps didn’t have as much of an impact as usual in his 36 minutes on the pitch, but there were still glimpses of his powerful carrying game and everyone associated with England will be hoping he gets back to fitness soon.
The bench was used very sensibly. Ben Morgan was forced into action early but proved that England have a more than capable replacement for Vunipola with a performance that showcased not only his power but also his workrate – he was England’s fourth highest tackler, despite playing only 44 minutes.
Henry Thomas acquitted himself well, to everyone’s great relief, to the extent that Healy was substituted after just one scrum against him (although that may well have been planned anyway). Much of this, however, was down to the entrance of Dave Attwood, who scrummaged behind Thomas, which proved a shrewd move from Lancaster.
Tom Youngs and Mako Vunipola also both upped the defensive work rate at a crucial time, while all the backs were left on the bench – the correct decision.
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images